How to Be a Cat

Image of How to Be a Cat
Release Date: 
May 6, 2019
Abrams Appleseed
Reviewed by: 

“A standout among the board book crowd.”

Originally published as a picture book, How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure makes a natural transition to a board book. The cut-paper art is clear and simple, black and white with just a touch of blue. The simple story shows Big Cat teaching Little Kitten how to do the things that all cats do, from “Stretch” to “Scratch.”

The lively verbs and pictures will inspire young readers to imitate the kitten's actions, all the way to the last page, when the two cats curl up to “Dream.”

Part concept book of actions, part a day in the life of a cat, the pages provide two kinds of narratives, no small feat for such a simple-looking story.

The use of blue to introduce another character, a butterfly, is a lovely touch, and provides the kitten with a focus for “Hunt,” “Stalk,” and “Chase.” Sharp eyes will notice new details with each reading (how the cats are almost mirror images in their black-and-white patterns, a small songbird that flits in and out of the pages). On the page “Find,” young readers can not only find the kitten hiding in the bush, they can point out the blue butterfly and the bird, also tucked among the leaves.

This kind of visual cleverness makes How to Be a Cat a standout among the board book crowd. McClure's bold cut-paper art is perfect for this age group and her minimalist storytelling skills excel in this medium of few words. Together, the words and pictures are a perfect example of what a board book can be, one that will have young readers turning the sturdy pages over and over again.